Young people should "chase more rainbows, do well, and do us all proud": PM Lee

Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information, and her mother Madam Choo Lian Liang, holding copies of Madam Choo's book Chasing Rainbows.
Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information, and her mother Madam Choo Lian Liang, holding copies of Madam Choo's book Chasing Rainbows. ST PHOTO: MIKE LEE

SINGAPORE - It is a story of how a family conquered the odds and triumphed under extraordinary circumstances, during turbulent times that include the Japanese Occupation of Singapore and the fight against the communists.

Chasing Rainbows, or Zhui Hong in Chinese, tells the story of four generations of retired television producer Choo Lian Liang's family, from the late 1890s in China to Singapore today.

Its English edition was launched on Thursday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who noted that Singaporeans today are better off, being more educated and enjoying many more opportunities to achieve something special for themselves and the country.

Yet, he said: "Young people I meet today sometimes tell me they are anxious about their future. I find this worrying."

Mr Lee then told of how the Chinese version of the book had moved him in 2010.

It led him to talk of the older generations in his Mandarin speech at the 2010 National Day Rally. He had said that as new immigrants, they tend to have a greater spirit of determination, daring and adventurism, because of the difficult nature of moving and settling in to a new country. He had urged Singaporeans to learn from this spirit.

Reiterating the call on Thursday at the launch of the English version, he said he hopes it can reach and inspire a wider audience, especially younger Singaporeans.

He quoted what Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew once said: "The sky has turned brighter. There is a glorious rainbow that beckons those with the spirit of adventure. And there are rich findings at the end of that rainbow.

"To the young and the not too old, I say, look at the horizon, find that rainbow, go ride it."

PM Lee said: "I hope that young people who are worried about their future, who are sometimes beset by angst, who are anxious that life has become harder, kick hard, chase that rainbow, be inspired by this book, do well, and do us all proud".

The book, he added, "shows how earlier generations chased that rainbow, and found a pot of gold. Not without hard work, but they lived their lives well, and left something lasting and valuable for their children, for their country, for their future."

Its translation into English was done by Madam Choo's daughter, Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information.

Ms Sim, who chairs the National Translation Committee tasked with raising the standard of translation here, said she hopes the English edition will spur younger readers to "contribute to a Singapore that looks constantly towards brighter horizons even as it remembers its roots".

The book is on sale at major bookshops at $29.96 (with GST).